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Do Scleral Lenses Work for Dry Eye?

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A young woman smiling and holding a single scleral lens on her finger.

If you suffer from dry eye, you know how uncomfortable and frustrating it can be to wear contact lenses. Dry eye disease occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. 

It can cause redness, itching, burning, and even blurred vision. While there are treatments for dry eye, specialty contact lenses, such as scleral lenses, can offer hydration and comfort for dry eye relief. 

What Is Dry Eye Disease?

Dry eye disease, also known as dry eye syndrome, occurs when your eyes produce insufficient tears or the tears evaporate too quickly because they are of poor quality. Tears are essential for the health of your eyes, as they help keep your eyes’ surface moist, protect against infections, and nourish the cornea (the transparent front part of the eye).

When you have dry eye, you may experience a range of symptoms, including:

  • Burning or stinging sensations in the eyes
  • Scratchy feelings
  • Redness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive tearing (as a response to dryness)

Various factors that result in insufficient tears and tear evaporation can cause dry eye, including:

  • Age
  • Hormonal changes
  • Certain medications
  • Environmental factors 
  • Underlying health conditions 
  • Laser eye surgery
  • Digital eye strain

Treatment for dry eye can involve using artificial tears, lubricating eye drops, prescription medications, or other therapies. In severe cases, it may be necessary to block tear ducts or perform other procedures to promote healthy gland function in your eyelids. Management for dry eye can include treating the underlying cause or switching to contact lenses for dry eyes

What Are Scleral Lenses?

Scleral lenses are larger than soft contact lenses, cover the entire cornea, and rest on the sclera, the white part of your eye. 

Scleral contact lenses can correct many refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. They create a vault over the cornea that can act as a reservoir of fluid that can lubricate your eyes and help keep them moist, which can help those with dry eyes.

Because they have a bigger diameter than standard contact lenses, scleral lenses can also be more stable and less likely to move around on the eye, making them a good option for people with keratoconus.

Optometrist conducting an eye exam on her patient to assess his eye health and suitability for contact lenses.

We can conduct a comprehensive eye exam to assess your eye health and suitability for contact lenses. The process may also involve having a contact lens exam since not all contact lenses are suited for all eyes.

A contact lens fitting can help us find lenses that are the right size and shape for your eyes. Once you have your lenses, we can help you learn how to insert and remove them properly and take care of them to prevent infection and other complications.

Benefits of Scleral Lenses for Dry Eye

If you have chronic dry eye and can’t tolerate contact lenses well, there is an option for you. One of the main advantages of scleral lenses is that they can create a fluid reservoir that can help keep the eye hydrated throughout the day, which can reduce dry eye symptoms.

Because the lenses cover the entire cornea, they can also protect your eyes from environmental irritants, such as dust and wind, which can exacerbate dry eye symptoms.

What to Keep In Mind with Scleral Lenses

When other types of contact lenses are a challenge for people with dry eyes, scleral lenses offer a solution. However, there are some things to keep in mind with scleral lenses:

  • The fitting process can take time to find the right size and shape for your eyes. 
  • It may take some time to get used to wearing scleral lenses.
  • Like all contact lenses, scleral lenses require proper care and maintenance to prevent infection and other complications.

Caring for Your Contact Lenses

Caring for your scleral lenses is important for maintaining eye health. Proper care and hygiene for your lenses includes:

  • Washing your hands before inserting and removing your contact lenses.
  • Removing your lenses before you sleep to lower the risk of infection. 
  • Only using contact lens solution to clean your lenses.
  • Cleaning your contact lens case with a contact lens solution and replacing it every 3 months.

Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes

The good news for chronic dry eye sufferers is you may not have to give up wearing contact lenses. Contact lens technology has made many improvements to lenses that can help keep your eyes moist and comfortable. 

If you’re considering scleral lenses for dry eye, book an appointment with Foothill Optometric Group to discuss the benefits. With the right fit, scleral lenses are a contact option that can provide relief for dry eyes.

Written by Total Vision

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